Larry Hodges' daily blog will go up Mon-Fri by noon USA Eastern time (usually by 10 AM, more like noon on Mondays when he does a Tip of the Week and has three days to cover). Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of eight books and over 1500 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio.
USATT Teleconference, New Coaching Chair, and the Service Judges Proposal
The USATT Board had a teleconference on Monday night, starting 7PM. (I blogged about the agenda on Monday.) Among other things, we appointed a number of USATT committee chairs and members. At exactly 8:36PM on Monday night I was appointed to my second tenure as chair of the USATT Coaching Committee. (USATT will publish online the full listings of soon of the various committee chairs and members we just appointed.) I’ll blog later about my plans for the coaching committee. My previous tenure was 1991-1995; I was also on the coaching committee 2010-2013.
The meeting was scheduled to last only 70 minutes, but took about two hours. This was mostly because the seven minutes allocated to the Rules Committee Proposal for Service Judges ended up taking something like 40 minutes of debate. The proposal was to give referees the option of appointing service judges on each end of the court at the upcoming USA Nationals, where they can better see the legality of a serve, in particular whether the serve was hidden. It would essentially be a test, and if it works, it would then be presented to the ITTF. The key thing here is that the referee would have complete discretion over whether to call for this, and would not, for example, call for it if there’s no room for the service judges (i.e. the back of the court is a wall) or if there aren’t enough umpires. They would also not use it in “big” matches at this time, with events such as Under 2400 mentioned as events where it could be tested. The proposal will also be tested at the upcoming College Nationals.
There were some objections to this proposal. The main ones were:
I made the motion to adopt the proposal, and gave an impassioned argument that we need to stop looking the other way at all the cheating that takes place in our sport at the higher levels, where illegally hiding the serve is the norm, and so to compete on an equal basis, nearly all top players have to learn and use these serves. I thought it was going to be a close vote, but lo and behold, it passed, 6-1-1 (one abstention).
Other issues: welcome and introduction of new board member Gary Schlager; CEO Report (National Team Trials, USA Nationals, Membership, Sponsorship and Fundraising, Clubs Update, Tournaments, High Performance/USOC, Junior National Team Trials, and Seamaster & Newco.); a closed session for a legal update (has Trump been tapping our phones to learn our coaching secrets?); and a discussion of our upcoming board meeting schedule. (We’ll be meeting near the ICC club in California April 22-23. Taking the weekend off will cost me over $500, but that’s comes with being on the Board.)
One part about the Rules Committee Proposal for Service Judges I didn’t like was the rationalizing for it. It argues, with pictures included, that “the umpires are in poor position to judge whether the ball is hidden.” While this is correct, it misses what I consider the key problem in our enforcement of the service rule. As I’ve pointed out many times in this blog and in arguments with umpires and referees, the key question is not whether the serve was hidden, but whether the umpire was “sure about the legality of the serve,” with the rules also stating that “It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or assistant umpire can be satisfied that s/he complies with the requirements of the law.” When players serve so the umpire cannot be “sure” and “satisfied” about the legality of the serve, then the serve is a fault (with an optional warning first).
So while some argue that umpires can’t tell if the serve is hidden or not from their viewpoint, they don’t seem to realize that they have just stated that the serve is illegal. If they are not “sure” and “satisfied,” there is no longer any gray area – the serve is illegal, and if they don’t call it, they are allowing a player to cheat. Alas, umpires and referees don’t want to be singled out as the only one enforcing the rules, so we’ll continue to have illegal serving – yes, cheating – until the people in charge – Rules Committee, Umpires and Referees Committee, USATT Board, ITTF – make it a priority to enforce the service rule as it is written and stop the rampant cheating in our sport. (I tried, at the December, 2015 Board meeting – see Motion 6 – and may bring this up again sometime. I also have my Net Visibility Rule proposal to solve the problem.) We’re still in the “denial” stage, like baseball in the steroids era, where most knew what was going on but mostly looked the other way. But the Service Judges Proposal is a step in the right direction.
Coaching Articles and Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis
Supermicro Returns as Title Sponsor of the 2017 USATT National Championships
Here’s the USATT press release.
Lily Zhang Eyes 8th World Championship Opportunity
Here’s the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.
Anastasiia Rybka Lights the Way for Texas Wesleyan Rams for NCTTA Nationals
Here’s the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.
Ding Ning Outrageous Table Tennis Rally
Here’s the video (59 sec).
Jason Piech in Training!
Here’s the video (66 sec) of the up-and-coming star from the Northwest Arkansas TTC. I’ve coached him a few times at training camps at MDTTC.
Overweight Player Watches Ball Go By
Here’s the animated gif.
Fish Table Tennis
Here’s the cartoon!
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USATT Teleconference and Snow
We had it last night. I’ll blog about it tomorrow. Meanwhile, it's snowing here in Maryland, and my coaching (and the Tuesday night League) is cancelled for the day. So I'll get a lot of work done!!!
When was USA Table Tennis Team Strongest?
I’m referring here to the strength of our National Team, and their results at the World Championships in Men’s and Women’s Singles, Doubles, and Teams. (Our results in other events such as Paralympics is a separate issue.) I was asked recently when we were at our best. The answer is probably in the late 1930s.
By comparison, we won only two titles in the 1940s – Mixed Doubles in 1948 and Women’s Teams in 1949, and one in the 1950s – Mixed Doubles in 1956. (We did have some pretty good performances both decades.) As to the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s . . . less said the better. (I believe Gao Jun, former world #3 from China, after emigrating to the U.S. made the quarterfinals of Women’s Singles at the Worlds one year.) Oh, and Tybie Sommers, who won Mixed Doubles in 1948 (as Thelma Hall) is our last surviving World Champion, and sometimes shows up, medal around neck, at the U.S. Open or Nationals!
Below are a list of World Titles won in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, plus notable performances (semis or better in Singles, finals or better in Teams and Doubles). Note that due to World War II, there were no Worlds held from 1940-1946, which of course cost us a number of titles. But nothing compared to what we did in 1937.
-Other 1930s Notables:
-Other 1940s Notables:
-Other 1950s Notables:
Here’s the Serving Low Tip of the Week from July 16, 2012 – but it’s still one of the most under-developed skills in table tennis.
Ma Long Best Points Marvellous 2017
Here’s the video (4:51).
Rachel Sung Takes First International Title in Italy
Here’s the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.
2017 Smash TT Winter Challenge 2 Star Open
Here’s the article. Chen Bowen, Lidney Castro, and Tiffany Ke are all from my club!
Landmark, records broken, World Table Tennis Day bigger than ever
Here’s the ITTF article.
Novak Djokovic Surprises Fans With Ping Pong
Here’s the video (38 sec).
Super-Fast Animated Table Tennis
Here’s the repeating gif image.
Unreturnable Spin Serves
Here’s the video (14 sec).
Fast-Action Balloon Pong
Here’s the video (29 sec)!
It’s Pi Day!
Yes, today’s date is 3.14. Here is some pi related table tennis products.
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Tip of the Week
Warm Up the Shots You’ll Be Using.
13.5 Hours of Weekend Coaching
My weekend hours keep going up. This weekend I did five hours on Saturday and 8.5 on Sunday! (Of course, to many full-time coaches, it's just another weekend.) On Mondays I have 3.5 hours, then just two on Tue and Wed. I’m normally off on Thur and Fri. Due to the USATT Teleconference, which is normally scheduled the second Monday every month, I had to cancel one hour for tonight, so being on the Board is costly.
On Sunday we had the tenth and final week of the Beginning/Intermediate Junior Class (90 min, 14 players). The first half was “player’s choice,” where the players go to choose what they needed to work on. Then we did what I always like doing at the end of each ten-week session – lobbing!!! We did a demo and I went over how to smash lobs. Then John Hsu, William Huang, and I each took a court and spent 15 minutes lobbing to the kids, who stayed up until they missed three. Wen Hsu took the youngest beginners and fed them multiball lobs. After an hour of training we did 30 minutes of games. The older players did Brazilian Teams while the younger ones voted unanimously (as they do every week) for the ever-popular “Cup Game,” where they make pyramids of paper cups, then line up and knock them down as I feed multiball.
In the Talent Program (22 advanced juniors, 90 min), we did lots and Lots and LOTS of shadow practice and multiball. Then a lot of serve and attack type drills. I spent a lot of time with one of the kids who was really into developing his spin serves. The night before in a league match he’d pulled off a nice upset, with his new reverse pendulum serve winning him a lot of points.
In the Adult Training session (90 min, 11 players), after the usual drills (FH-FH and BH-BH warm-up, footwork, smashing and looping drills), we did 30 minutes of serve and attack, with the players taking turns, 7.5 min each. The focus was on attacking down the line and recovering. Often players attack down the line and just stand there, leaving a wide angle open. So they practice not only attacking, but following through back into the proper position for the next shot.
Tonight at 7PM we’re having a USATT Teleconference. (I’m one of the nine on the USATT Board.) On the agenda (my wording, not directly from the agenda itself):
Whip Forehand Topspin Table Tennis - Like a Boss!
Here’s the new video (4:07) from Brett Clarke.
New Articles and Videos from Samson Dubina
Table Tennis Training With a Purpose - Make it Count!
Here’s the article from Table Tennis University.
Unreal Drop Shots by Yijun 'Tom' Feng
Here’s the video (44 sec) as the 2015 U.S. National Men’s Champion practices and demonstrates his drop shop against lobs, fed by Cory Eider. Did you think players develop this type of touch by not practicing it?
Rare Footage of Fan Zhendong at Age Ten
Here’s the video (1:16) as the now world #2 played against German star Thomas Keinath as a kid.
Master Stroke Table Tennis Training Device
Here’s the video (1:28) of this new table tennis invention, apparently from Asia. (Who’ll be the first to let me know whether the sub-titles are Chinese, Japanese, or Korean? I have no idea.)
2017 Italian Junior & Cadet Open: Gold for Rachel!
Here’s the article by Bruce Liu, featuring USA’s Rachel and Joanna Sung.
Personal Invitation to 2017 Spring High Performance Camp
Here’s the article. Camp takes place March 27-29, between the USA National Team Trials (March 23-26) and the Cary Cup (March 30 – April), all at the Triangle TTC in North Carolina.
ITTF Looking for Media Interns for Liebherr 2017 World Table Tennis Championships
Here’s the article. “The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) offers media internships for young media professionals to work for the ITTF at the Liebherr 2017 World Table Tennis Championships to be held in Dusseldorf, Germany from Monday 29th May to Monday 5th June.”
ITTF Executive Committee Meets in Dubai
Here’s the article, with a summary of the meeting this past Saturday.
China: Marvelous Twelve
Here’s the ITTF page featuring Chinese news, with coverage of the just completed Chinese Team Trials. Lots of articles, including ones on why Ma Long and Zhang Jike both had to withdraw due to injuries.
NCTTA National Championship is Coming!
Here’s the preview video (3:36).
NYCTTA and Aerobic Table Tennis
Here’s the video (1:51) by Jules Apatini, featuring Coach Ernesto Ebuen. “This video is a collaboration between the Aerobic Sports Dance & Music Exercises Group & NYCTTA. It was created to demonstrate how Table Tennis is an excellent form of Aerobic Progressive Exercises. We will bring you videos like this in the not so distant future.”
Amazing Table Tennis Hand Switch Shot
Here’s the video (37 sec) of this great shot. It turns out she had been practicing the shot for this very circumstance!
Shadow Practice at the Gym
Here’s the video (7 sec) – Think of the fitness benefits if millions of Americans did this?!!!
Ping Pong is Night Out for Tech CEOs Zuckerberg, Houston and Kalanick
Here’s the article and pictures. “The trio of tech CEO pals hit SPiN in San Francisco, part of Susan Sarandon's network of ping pong social clubs, last Friday.”
Meet Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers' Latest Budding Superstar
Here’s the article – but is he a budding baseball or table tennis superstar? “Getting a look last year at the club’s pingpong culture, Bellinger worked on his table tennis game in the offseason, in addition to his attention toward baseball. He even has his own paddle now.”
Funniest TT Player Ever? Timo, Who Else?
Here’s the video (2:57) that compiles some of his funniest real or exhibition points. (He’s the lefty, the former world #1 from Germany.)
The Greatest Football Players “Play” Table Tennis
Here’s the video (59 sec) as these soccer stars (yeah, real football) “play” table tennis, set to music!
Non-Table Tennis - Top Ten Leadoff Options for the Baltimore Orioles
Here’s the article I wrote, now featured on Orioles Hangout. (Yes, baseball.) It includes a number of inside jokes some might not get. The Orioles are a great power-hitting team, but at the moment don’t have a really good option for leadoff hitter (where on base percentage and speed are important). It’s my 32nd article published there, going back to 2012. Other than table tennis and the Orioles, I don’t really follow sports too closely. (I used to coach Orioles players – one hour each with JJ Hardy and Brady Anderson, and about ten sessions with Darren O’Day. Here’s my blog on my visit to the Orioles Clubhouse in 2013 with four of our players, and here’s video.)
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More Table Tennis Tips
The book is almost done! This is a compilation of all 150 of my Tips of the Week from 2014-2016, put in logical progression. It’s the sequel to Table Tennis Tips, which did the same for 2011-2013. Yesterday I finished inputting the edits and suggestions from the Terrific Trio of Mark Dekseyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor, who read the first draft. So the text is now done. Today I’ll be formatting the pages. I also have to do the back cover. (Front cover is done.) If all goes well, it’ll be ready for final proofing in a few days. When it comes out (by the end of this month), I may put together some sort of special where you can get both volumes at a discount. Or why not buy Table Tennis Tips and read it now, so you can go straight to More Table Tennis Tips when it comes out?
I’ve been encouraging some of my students to shadow practice. This is a big part of the Talent junior program at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, where the coaches lead the players in shadow-stroking drills, and then feed multiball to each player, with the others in the group lined up behind and shadow-stroking. (Parents take turns picking up the balls so it’s continuous, with short breaks.) Here are three videos I sent to them as examples.
On Wednesday, I wrote about how we had reached 90 full-time clubs in the U.S. Well, now we’re at 92, with the additions of the New York City Table Tennis Academy and the Houston International Table Tennis Academy. I’m not sure how these two were left out before, but now we’re just eight away from that magic 100 mark. I hope to focus on developing more of these centers over the next couple of years. (If you know of any not on the list, let me know.)
It was at the December 2006 USATT board meeting that I urged USATT to make it a goal to have 100 full-time centers in the country within ten years. I created a plan and made the proposal where we’d actively recruit and train people to set up these training centers, focusing on how they could make a full-time living coaching table tennis. (At the time there were about eight such centers, with perhaps a couple dozen full-time coaches in the U.S.; now we have many hundreds.) The program would be paid by the coaches themselves, who already were paying to attend USATT certification clinics. My point was that we were only teaching them how to coach, not how to be professional coaches, and so few of them extensively used the skills we taught them.
The idea was scoffed at, with the eternal argument that there aren’t enough table tennis players in this country – but here we are. It was the primary reason I resigned early in 2007 as USATT editor and programs director. Two board members in particular ridiculed the idea, and others sort of quietly looked the other way. Now imagine where we would be if USATT had helped out by recruiting and training people to set up and run these centers? Instead, people have had to do it on their own, one by one, with experienced people like myself advising informally. Instead of 92, we’d probably have twice that many. If that seems like a lot, remember that back then eight seemed like a lot, and the idea of having 100 seemed a joke. I once calculated that we should have about 500 in this country.
I get scoffed at a lot. When I co-founded the Maryland Table Tennis Center in 1992, it was the first successful full-time training center of its kind, and we were also told it couldn’t work, that there just isn’t enough table tennis activity in this country for something like that to work. What they were missing, of course, is that you develop the interest. We’re the same species of human as people overseas, and it works there, so why not here? But every step of the way the idea of full-time training centers has been scoffed at, with people believing each step of the way that we had saturated the market and there was no room for more.
I was toying with creating a comprehensive lists of all the things I’ve been scoffed at for, but then I’d be here all day. (Do you play in a rated table tennis league, using the USATT League ratings? When I co-founded that with Robert Mayer as an attempt to break away from “winner stay on” mentality of most clubs, it was scoffed at. In both of my tenures as editor of USA Table Tennis Magazine I was told that they had saturated the table tennis advertising market – and each time I tripled the ad revenue. Heck, I didn’t start table tennis until I was 16, and guess how many people believed someone could start that late and reach top 20 in the U.S.?)
How to Plan a Third-Ball Attack
Here’s the article and podcast (7:50) from Expert Table Tennis. I thought I’d comment on one statement, where it says, “If you’re a player with a really strong forehand, but a weak backhand attack, then it doesn’t make sense for you to do loads of pendulum forehand serves when you’re playing matches. Because you’re just increasing the chance that you’ll need to use your backhand for the third-ball.”
I believe this was written more for beginning and intermediate players, where it’s generally true. At the higher levels, among those with fast footwork, it actually changes, and forehand-oriented players (like myself) favor the forehand pendulum serve. Why? Because it allows us to attack with the forehand from the backhand side, which puts us in position for a second follow-up forehand. If we used sidespin to put the ball to the forehand (say, a backhand serve, tomahawk serve, or reverse pendulum serve), then the ball might tend to go to the forehand side, giving us a forehand shot, but pulling us to the wide forehand side – and then the opponent could block to the backhand, taking away the forehand.
MH Coaching Blog
You’ve got a long weekend ahead, so why not curl up with a few good coaching articles at MH Table Tennis (by Matt Hetherington)? They’ve accumulated over the years, so there are a lot of nice ones!
Adam Bobrow 'The Voice of Table Tennis' on Board for the Next Four Years
Here’s the ITTF press release.
2017 Butterfly Arnold Table Tennis Challenge Collegiate Players & Alumni Dominate Rating Events
Here’s the article by Barbara Wei.
MasterChef rivalry: Heston Blumenthal’s Table Tennis Battle Royale with George Calombaris
Here’s the article from the London Daily Telegraph.
LIVE NOW: The Marvellous 12 - Stage 2 Finals
Here’s where you can watch the Chinese Team Trials – live! (Presumably you can go back and watch them afterwards as well.)
War of the Worlds Pong?
Here’s the picture of these tripod beings taking up table tennis!
Humorous Table Tennis T-Shirts
Because only a really boring table tennis player doesn't have at least one humorous table tennis shirt in his collection!
Ping-Pong in Kong!
When you see Kong: Skull Island, watch closely early in the film when they set out on the big boat - there's a ping-pong table on deck! As to the movie itself (non-table tennis aspects), this is what I posted on Facebook after seeing it last night (with a few minor edits): “Kong: Skull Island is basically Apocalypse Now + Jurassic Park + Moby Dick + Robinson Crusoe + Beauty and the Beast + Godzilla (as King Kong played by "Caesar" from the Planet of the Apes) all in one. Great movie, very different from past King Kong movies. 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Stay for the after-credits scene.”
And since we’re on the topic of King Kong, here are King Kong/Gorilla table tennis pictures!
- King Kong Ping Pong 1
- King Kong Ping Pong 2
- King Kong Ping Pong 3
- King Kong Ping Pong 4
- King Kong Ping Pong 5
- King Kong Ping Pong 6
- King Kong Ping Pong 7
- King Kong Ping Pong 8
- King Kong Ping Pong 9
- King Kong Ping Pong 10
- King Kong Ping Pong 11
- King Kong Ping Pong 12
- King Kong Ping Pong 13
- King Kong vs. Zhang Jike
- King Kong vs. Godzilla
- Long-Armed Gorilla Pong
- Dr. Neubauer Roaring Gorilla Pips
- Gorillas Playing Pong
- Gorilla Blade 1 (there were over 20 different ones)
- Gorilla Blade 2
- Gorilla Blade 3
- I Love My Gorilla Paddle
- Gorilla Ping Pong Ball (there were over 20 different ones)
Non-Table Tennis: Funny Horror
The recent anthology Funny Horror has a story I wrote in it, “Happily and Righteously,” a parody of paranoia. The first review of the book is out, from Imagine Books, where my story is listed as one of the favorites. The reviewer then went over each story one by one, and gave the story the shortest review of all: “Brilliant!”
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Backhands to Get the Timing for Forehands
I have a new student who has been struggling with her forehand. It’s sort of strange – she has a very good backhand, and we can really go at it on that side. But on the forehand, her shots go all over the place. Sometimes she’ll hit a few good ones, and then she’ll swat it straight down into the net, then loft it way off the end, as if there’s no control over the timing or the stroke. The contrast between the two sides is huge. Her background was that she had trained as a kid in Poland, then stopped for decades, and was now picking it up again.
From a coaching point of view, it was rather frustrating as each session would start with us going forehand-to-forehand, sometimes multiball, sometimes live, and no matter what we did, the balls flew everywhere. Eventually we’d wear down and switch to backhands, where she’d have no problem – though by then she’d be a bit tired, physically and mentally, and so even there it wasn’t as good as it could be.
Yesterday (our fifth session) I had a brainstorm. We so often start off sessions going forehand to forehand and then backhand to backhand, and it made sense here – she needed more work on the forehand, so we should start there, right? After a while we could then go to the backhand for a time, and then come back to work on that problematic forehand again. But more and more I was suspecting the forehand problem was strictly a timing problem, and the changes in stroke were her adjustments to timing problems – lunging forward and swatting the ball into the net when she was too early, lofting it off the end when she was too late. We worked on the timing, trying to take the ball at the same spot each time, but were only semi-successful. So what was this brainstorm?
We started yesterday’s session going backhand to backhand. She did so well that I began to increase the pace, and soon she was hitting them like a pro (perhaps at a 1900-2000 level). When I played my forehand to her backhand I began to really tee off, and she got better and better, as if those skills from years ago in Poland were coming back.
Then we switched to forehands – and the change was dramatic!!! Hitting all those backhands, where she’s comfortable, helped her develop her timing, and so when we switched to forehands, she had no trouble. By the end of the session she was smacking in forehands like a pro! (Next week we begin looping, something she learned all those years ago in Poland – and she hinted that she was stronger on the backhand loop than the forehand loop.)
How to Transfer Practice Skills to a Match
Here’s the article and podcast (7:42) from Expert Table Tennis.
Small Steps Training Drill
Here’s the article by Tom Lodziak.
Coaching Articles from Coach Me Table Tennis
Here’s a site with regular coaching articles.
SPiN Announces Its Latest Expansion Into Austin and Launch Of Its New Digital Programming
Here’s the article.
Ask a Pro Anything - Paul Drinkhall
Here’s the video (5:10) with Adam Bobrow. Drinkhall, the #1 player from England, is #39 in the world (#32 in September)
Top 10 Men’s World Rankings – the Video!
Here’s the video (33 sec) from Pong Universe, featuring the new March rankings. Here’s the ITTF World Ranking List, with Men, Women, and boys and girls Under 21, Under 18, and Under 15.
Incredible Kreanga Over the Barriers
Here’s the video (36 sec).
Ping-Pong as the Fountain of Youth
Here’s the article from the New York Times.
How to Make Ping-Pong Ball Monsters
Here’s the info page and video (47 sec)!
Octopus Table Tennis Shirt
Here it is!
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Celebrities Playing Table Tennis - Want to Host It?
Many years ago, “In a moment of sudden clarity, I realized what this world needed was a web page devoted to pictures of celebrities playing table tennis.” And so I created the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis Page. I maintained and continued to add to it for years, and it now has 1440 photos of 870 different celebrities playing table tennis. Why not browse over it?
How’d you like to take over the site?
A lot of blogs and web pages have links to the site. Here's a list of 68. It was even a "Yahoo Pick," and is one of their "Celebrity Picks.") At its peak, for several months the page averaged over 15,000 downloads per day! (Alas, I’m having trouble accessing the current stats, but I know it still gets a lot of daily hits.)
But it go to be a time-consuming job. A major reason for this was the way I’d set it up, with simple old-fashioned HTML and tables. I think some of the code got messed up, and it became a time-consuming headache adding more pictures. But it’s all there, easy to read, in nine different categories: Politicians/Leaders ... Athletes ... Talk Show Hosts ... Writers ... Actors ... Actresses ... Musicians ... Cartoon Characters ... Other.
I’m just too busy to devote time to it, and so few years ago I stopped maintaining it. And so it just sits there, an orphan in cyberspace, looking for someone it can call “Mommy” or “Daddy.” Yes, I’ve abandoned it; I’m a horrible parent. (I even have a folder of new photos for it that I’ve never added.)
But I’d like to find a good home for it. It would be a great way to attract traffic to your site. You’d have to host it – that means transferring it all to your server, and setting it up in any format you choose. (I'm sure there's a more efficient, modern way of setting up this photo gallery than the way it's currently set up.) Right now it’s a purely non-commercial site – it even says that in bold at the top – and I’d prefer it go to some semi-noncommercial site, rather than a purely commercial one, but let’s see who’s interested and motivated to take it over and maintain it. If interested, let me know.
USATT Young Officials Seminar
Here’s the USATT article – now this is something new and interesting! It’ll take place on Sunday, March 26, at the Lily Yip TTC in New Jersey. Cost is $25. “The one-day seminar . . . will give aspiring young officials 13 – 18 years old the chance to learn the rules of table tennis and earn their USATT Club Umpire Certification. The seminar will be conducted under the supervision of ITTF International Referee and International Umpire Roman Tinyszin, who served as the Deputy Referee at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.”
And Long Island TTC Makes 90!
With the addition of the Long Island TTC, we now have 90 full-time table tennis centers in the U.S. C’mon, just ten more!!! (I was once laughed at for predicting ten years ago that we could have 100 such centers in ten years – back then we had about eight.)
UPDATE - I just added the New York City Table Tennis Academy, so we're at 91.
UPDATE - I just added the Houston International Table Tennis Academy, so we're at 92. (I thought I had already added them.)
How to Recover After Your Service
Here’s the article and podcast (6:31) from Expert Table Tennis.
Top 3 Table Tennis Injuries (and How to Prevent Them)!
Here’s the article.
Best of 2016
Here are the eight best videos from Samson Dubina in 2016.
Young Players Excel at 2017 Maryland Hopes Camp and Trial
Here’s the USATT article – by me! It’s from my blog on Tuesday.
2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games Initial Announcement
Here’s the news release.
Serious Fun: Augusta Table Tennis Classic to help put food on tables
Here’s the article from the Augusta Chronicle.
Ma Long vs Fan Zhendong (Marvelous 12)
Here’s the video (7:12) in the Chinese Team Trials – with links to other matches on the right. Here are the current standings and article – and Zhang Jike (who has dropped to 2-4) has withdrawn from stage one with a foot injury.
Here’s the video (43 sec)!
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Tip of the Week
Footwork and Strokes: Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em.
Maryland Regional Hopes Camp and Tournament
Maryland Table Tennis Center, March 4-5, 2017
By Larry Hodges
They were held this past weekend at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, with 25 players taking part. The camp was on Saturday, with two 2.5 hour sessions, with the tournament on Sunday. A great thanks goes to ITTF and USATT (especially Andy Horn and Gordon Kaye) for arranging these events, and to HW Global Foundation, which helped sponsor it. Here is the USATT Hopes Info page.
Head coach for the camp was Wang Qing Liang (“Leon”), one of the USATT National Cadet Coaches and one of nine full-time coaches at MDTTC. Also coaching were the MDTTC coaching staff, and Jessica Lin helped out as a practice partner. Here’s a group picture of the players and some of the coaches. (Not all the players in the tournament were in the camp.) Here’s a picture of me in action, with Wang Qing Liang on far right. (Notice how attentive the kids are?)
For the morning session I acted as a practice partner, doing one-on-one coaching. There were lots of footwork and serve & attack drills. The afternoon session was mostly multiball. I had a group of three players and went through nine drills:
The tournament was on Sunday, with five events. I ran the tournament, with Wen Hsu assisting. Another great thanks goes to Referee Paul Kovac and Umpires Joseph Lee and Stephen Yeh, who umpired all of the Boys’ and Girls’ Final Four matches. Here is a group picture of the players in Boys’ and Girls’ Singles, and staff (with Stephen Yeh missing).
The two main events were Boys’ and Girls’ Singles, for players born in 2005 or 2006. (Alas, many of our top juniors were born just before or after this.) The top three finishers at each of the four Hopes Tournaments become members of the USA Hopes Team and qualify for the North American Hopes Qualifier, to be held April 29-30 in New Jersey. The top four finishers got medals and certificates. There were also three rating events, with players under age 16 eligible. Congrats to the two champions, Jayden Zhou and Faith Hu, both from New Jersey, and to the others who qualified or won medals! Here are complete results from Omnipong. Below are the main results – click on the names to see pictures.
Hopes Boys – Final: Jayden Zhou d. Avi Gupta, -11, 5,3,1; SF: Zhou d. Robert Sun, 8,-5,-9,3,7; Gupta d. Alexander Yang, 7,6,5. 3-4: Robert Sun d. Alexander Yang, 8,9,3.
Hopes Girls: 1st Faith Hu, 3-0; 2nd Linda Shu, 2-1; 3rd Nicole Deng, 1-2; 4th Hina Sheikh, 0-3.
U2100: 1st Linda Shu, 3-0; 2nd Nicole Deng, 2-2; 3rd Kallista Liu, 2-2; 4th Stanley Hsu, 1-3.
U1700: 1st Ainish Dassarma, 4-0; 2nd Daniel Sofer, 3-1; 3rd Jackson Beaver, 2-2; 4th Andy Wu, 1-3.
U1300: 1st Kay Okawa, 3-0; 2nd Jason Liu, 2-1; 3rd Kurtus Hsu, 1-2; 4th Hina Sheikh, 0-3.
Brian Pace Appointed Head Coach of Triangle Table Tennis Center
Here’s the article – Congrats Brian! I was the manager of the Resident Training Program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs when Brian went there at age 15 in the late 1980s for I think two years. Later he came to Maryland for five years or so, training at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (which is when he hit his peak, breaking 2600) – for about a year I shared a house with him and several other players.
Articles and Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis
R U Ready? The Ball is Coming Back!
Here’s the article and video (23 sec – see last 5 sec) by Samson Dubina.
Tom's Table Tennis Newsletter
Here’s the newest one, with links to numerous coaching articles. (I’ve linked to all or most of them, but a second read often helps.)
2017 USA National Team Trials
They are at the Triangle TTC in North Carolina, March 23-26.
Butterfly Arnold Table Tennis Challenge
Revealing the Diamond Within
Here’s a great video (2:39) that, while technically an ad, is really a great statement about the sport.
Lily Zhang and Mark Zuckerberg
Here’s the picture after they played – one of them is an Olympian!
Trump Immigration Policy Worries Ohlone College Table Tennis Champ
Here’s the article from The Mercury News (centered in San Jose, CA), featuring Ying Wang. (Picture shows her holding the YUUUGE trophy she won for Women’s Singles at the 2016 College Nationals.) “Uncertainty regarding the immigration policy of President Donald Trump is causing anxiety for an Ohlone College student who also happens to be a table tennis national champion. A native of China, Ying (Emily) Wang said her fear of being sent back home or not being able to find a job after graduation resonates among the more than 420 international students from nearly 30 countries at Ohlone.”
Donald Trump: Photoshopped into Table Tennis!
Here’s the gallery, which have him photoshopped as (mostly) a wheelchair table tennis player in numerous ways – as a turtle, juggling, and (my favorite), the alien from “Alien” coming out of his chest!
Over-the-Top One on Five
Here’s the video (61 sec) – it’s hilarious! Five men take on one woman in this truly over-the-top video. It gets crazy about 20 sec in.
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And On the Third Day He Rested….
After coaching nine hours on Saturday (including the Hopes Camp), and twelve hours at the club on Sunday (running the Hopes tournament, then 4.5 hours of coaching), I need a day to rest and catch up on my todo list, which is growing like bamboo. (I also have 2.5 hours of coaching tonight, and need to work on my new book, the creatively titled “More Table Tennis Tips,” which should be out by the end of the month.) But here’s a funny dog video (1:40) – skip to the last six seconds to see the dog playing “ping-pong”!
USATT Club Affiliation Fee
On Tuesday night and into the early Wednesday morning hours I was involved in an extensive email discussion with USATT people and others regarding the USATT affiliation fee. For many years, it was kept low because we wanted clubs on the USATT club listing, since that's a primary way USATT gets members - through potential players who find a local club. If a local club isn't listed in the USATT club listing, then they don't find the club, don't get into table tennis, and never join USATT.
But a number of years ago, when USATT had a budget crunch, it raised the rates rapidly, and in just a few years it went from $15 to $75. We lost at least 100 affiliated clubs, and "coincidentally," about 2000 members. Alas, many clubs are happy with their current membership - more players mean crowded tables - and so getting onto the USATT club listing isn't a priority for them - but it needs to be a priority for USATT. (Alas, I can't post emails received, as they are confidential, but I can post what I wrote. Will Shortz, who owns the Westchester Club in NY, is also arguing for lowering the club affiliation fee, for the same reasons.) Below are excerpts from my emails.
When we argue that they [clubs] are getting all these wonderful things (i.e. insurance) for the money, we have to remember that many of these clubs don't need that insurance. (This is why we've discussed the idea of perhaps having two levels, a low standard one, no more than $25/year, and $75 for those who wish insurance.) As I've said, we went from $15/year to $75/year in just a few years, and that's when we lost about 100 clubs, and untold numbers of potential members who went to our club listing, didn't see a club near them because the local club wasn't listed, and so we lost it. (And now our membership, which broke 9500 shortly before we began raising the club affiliation fee, is down something like 2000 members to about 7500.) Think about it - every time a potential player from Baltimore finds our club listing, he doesn't see the Baltimore Club, and so we lose him as a member. If we lose 100 clubs on our listing, and lose just two members per year as a result, that's $15,000/year, far more than what we'd get from the higher affiliation fee - and those members accumulate year after year so it's really a lot more per year.
Actually, when you write, "I believe some of those clubs simply don't care about USATT, don't care about being listed on our website, don't care about our insurance, and don't care about using our products (tournaments, leagues)," we are almost in complete agreement. It's not that they don't care about USATT or being listed on our website, they just aren't high on their priority list. [Technically I'm quoting someone else's email, but since we both agree on it, I don't think that's a problem.]
My point is that we need most of them more than they need us. When the price was low, they joined because it's inexpensive, and we gained members from players who join their club. It's pretty much a fact that a much larger percentage of clubs in the past were USATT affiliated than now; it's 100% true in Maryland, and it's what I hear regularly all over the country, that we have more and more non-affiliated clubs. (Alas, while we want more members, many clubs aren't actively looking for more - they are happy as they are, and so affiliate only if the price is low. We offer them value, just not $75 worth.) [Note - in one of the emails I pointed out that only two of the eight clubs I know of in Maryland are USATT affiliated, when all of them were previously before we dramatically raised the rates.]
I've been "out in the trenches" running or helping to run numerous clubs since the late 1970s (New Carrollton TTC where I started, Prince Georges TTC, Butterfly Wilson TTC, Univ. of MD TTC, Northern Virginia TTC, Beltsville TTC, Club JOOLA, and MDTTC, plus working with dozens of others), and talking to other club leaders regularly, and I guarantee that the price absolutely does make a difference. If you really truly believe there's no difference between $15 and $75, then you've just rewritten the rules of economics. :) More seriously, there was a very noticeable drop in clubs affiliating as the price went up, which was predicted in advance, and now we're down at least 100 clubs and 2000 members for no seeming reason, other than paralleling our dramatically rising cost. The reasons you give about the clubs not caring about USATT, etc., are no different than before, except we now offer more - insurance, which we didn't do before - and yet many joined before, but not now. Sure, there might be other factors, but the quintupling of the affiliation fee is by far the biggest.
If you were running a business, and decided to quintuple your rates, and you were told in advance that if you did this your sales would go down a lot, and you still quintupled them, and sales went down a lot, what would you conclude was the most likely factor in sales going down? I don't think one needs an MBA to answer this. The ONLY serious question here, IMHO, is whether it's worth the loss of club affiliation revenue to regain those 100 or so clubs. I think that's rather obvious as well, though using a two-fold system (more for those who need insurance) is the best idea.
Most of our members come from tournament players, but nearly 100% of tournament players start out as club players. When there are fewer clubs, we have fewer club players, and then we have fewer tournament players, and so fewer USATT members. It's a simple cause and effect relationship.
We've already gone over the case of quintupling the club affiliation fee and losing 100 clubs and 2000 members. Here's another example. In the early 1990s, I chaired the club committee. I introduced the Club Catalyst and Creation Program (yes, CCCP, an inside joke), whose goal was to create clubs in every city in the country with a population over 100,000, then 50,000. We set up club directors in I believe 43 states. While there were screams and cries that USATT was trying to take over the clubs and that the program wouldn't work (sound familiar?), we went from 226 to 301 clubs in two years – and membership went up about 2000, from about 5500 to 7500.
Then a new administration came in and wanted to do their own things, and cancelled the program (which had a $500 annual budget for postage and phone calls – no Internet those days), and clubs and membership numbers went back to static for years. But gradually, with the club fee staying the same, its relative price went down, and gradually the number of clubs increased to over 350, and membership to over 9500 – we were on the verge of breaking 10,000. And then USATT had a budget crunch, and took the "easy" way out, increasing the club affiliation fees while assuming that they wouldn't lose any clubs or members, which of course were silly assumptions. (I was at the meeting arguing strongly that they'd lose clubs, members and money this way, to no avail – it's in the minutes if I search around for them.) Anyway, the result was exactly as described above, and now we're back to around 250 clubs and 7500 or so members.
The strange thing is that, despite these facts, I can't seem to get people to understand that it is the number of clubs that has driven the number of members. When we did something that increased the number of clubs, but no change for members, membership shot up 2000. When we did something that lowered the number of clubs, but no change for members, we lost 2000 members. Let's learn from our history.
The first thing we need to do is get info – primarily, how many clubs use or need the insurance. Once we have that, then we can work from there to see what the cost would have to be for clubs that want insurance. As to the values listed below, until we add something new that many clubs want, or lower the cost, we won't get back to 350 clubs, or the 450 that we should be at, or the corresponding members we lose by not having them on our club listing.
Why not do a survey of clubs, and explain that we have to go to a two-tier system, and need to know how many clubs need the insurance? Then we might be able to charge those clubs more than $75/year. Ideally, we would include former clubs in the survey – hopefully we still have contact info for former affiliated clubs?
Some of these increases may have been rationalized because of the insurance – not sure. But as I keep pointing out, if we raise the club rate to pay for insurance, and end up LOSING money by doing so (from lost clubs and memberships), then the proper thing to have done would have been to keep the rates lower so as NOT to lose that money.
Ideally, I'd still like to see the two-track method ($25 for non-insurance club affiliation), $75 (or more) for the insurance option. Or perhaps sell them separately - $25 for the affiliation [which puts them on the USATT Club listing - which will soon have an interactive map], and whatever more is needed to make the insurance cost-effective, taking into account how important it is that we get them on the club listing.
I was told how much money USATT made when they raised the club affiliation fee. My response was to ask how much money we made when we lost 2000 members after raising the club fee. We have to look at the big picture.
Sid and Nandan Naresh on Ellen DeGeneres Show TODAY
Here's a Facebook photo gallery (6 pictures - click on each to see the next) of the taping. It airs on the Ellen DeGeneres Show today at 3-4PM on NBC. (Check your local listing to verify the time in your region.) Someone nobody with a weak forehand named Emma Watson is also on the show. (Hermione from Harry Potter, Belle/Beauty in the upcoming Beauty and the Beast.) Sid, 13 (on Feb. 13, probably after the taping), is rated 2260, and was on last year's USA Mini-Cadet Team; Nandan, 10, is rated 2014. (Let's not forget father Arcot, who has been rated as high as 2066!)
=>BREAKING NEWS - here's the video (4:21)!
How to Recover From a Dip in Form
Here's the article from Tom Lodziak.
How to Hold Your Free Arm During Play
Here's the article and podcast (5:11) from Expert Table Tennis.
3T Table Tennis Training
Here's the video (42 sec) of physical training for TT.
Scientists Tested 3 Ways to Psych Yourself Up - One Was the Clear Winner
Here's the article. (And don't miss the hilarious 49-sec video of the little girl at the end!)
Ping Pong for Parkinson's
Here's the video (1:48). "The Westchester Table Tennis Center in Pleasantville just unveiled a new initiative to help people with Parkinson's. Every Wednesday, will be 'Parkinson's Night', when those battling the disease can play for free on their first visit."
The Marvelous 12 live on ITTF Facebook
Here's the article. "The Magnificent Seven, the Dirty Dozen, and now the Marvelous 12; the China trials for the Liebherr 2017 World Table Tennis Championships are here."
2017 Butterfly Arnold Table Tennis Challenge: Jian Li Ready to Defend Title
Here's the article by Barbara Wei.
U.S. Men's Coach Stefan Feth
Here's a video (13:31) showing highlights of one of Stefan Feth's more memorable tournaments. Here's Stefan's Facebook posting on this:
15 years ago (March 2, 2002) today marks a very memorable day for me. I did not only play well in the 2002 German National Championships, but the tournament was also held in my hometown Koblenz in front of my parents, family and friends. Back then my parents didn't get to see me play much and I will never forget this special day. After years of sacrifices for me from my parents, it was their first time seeing me play in a professional tournament. With the tremendous support of my Coach Andrzej Grubba guiding me through all my matches, I had an incredible run with a third-place finish in Men's Singles, eventually losing to Timo Boll.
In the Doubles, I finished second in Mixed Doubles with Nicole Struse. In Men's Doubles, I had an early exit with my partner, former Men's Doubles World Champion Steffen Fetzner, in the round of 16. Check out some of my highlights with the players below. In this video, we were still playing with the 38mm ball, old service rules, and speed glue, representing our state federations at the German Nationals.
Singles: Round of 32: Nico Christ 4:1; Round of 16: Lars Hielscher WR#68 4:0; Quarterfinals: David Daus WR#120 4:0; Semifinal: Timo Boll WR#3 0:4.
Mixed Doubles: Final: Nicole Struse Wr#41 & Stefan Feth WR#156 vs. Elke Schall WR#55 & Torben Wosik WR#40 1:3.
Ten Hilarious Table Tennis Gif Videos
Here they are! I've linked to many of these individually, but now they are all together on one page.
Four-Way Sit-Down Pong?
Here's the picture!
Send us your own coaching news!
Wootton High School
- Roy Ke, 17, 2428
- Derek Nie, 16, 2350
- George Li, 14, 2133
- Spencer Chen, 14, 2089
- Darwin Ma, 16, 1964
- Matt Stepanov, 15, 1641
- Patrick Chen, 17, 1626
- Edwin Yu, 17, 1602
- Eileen Chen, 17, 1558
- Callie Xu, 15, 992
Robert Frost Middle School
- Ryan Dabbs, 13, 2275
- Tiffany Ke, 12, 2247
- Ronald Chen, 12, 2024
- Daniel Sofer, 12, 1646
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Try a Little Defense
Here's the coaching tip from Carl Danner.
Zoran Primorac - Croatian Legend
Here's the video. He was ranked as high as #2 in the world, won the Men's Singles World Cup in 1993 and 1997 (and made the semifinals four other times), won the silver medal in Men's Doubles at the 1987 Worlds and 1988 Olympics (both times with Ilija Lupulesku), and made the final of Men's Singles at the European Championships in twice and won the bronze four times.
Illinois Table Tennis Association
Here's a nice state association page. Wouldn't it be nice if we had something like this for all 50 states?
Weird Ping-Pong Tables
Here's the picture!
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